Kiva pilot project deemed successful

Northeast News
March 31, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — A couple months ago, The Northeast News introduced a new business lending mechanism being promoted by The Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce called Kiva-Zip Loans.

In partnership with Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation [LISC], qualifying small businesses can get a zero percent loan, up to $5,000, through Kiva-Zip, an online crowd funding platform geared specifically for small businesses. Kiva-Zip uses social underwriting to increase a small business’ access to capital. The process, according to LISC, is simple. Each borrower is required to reach out to at least 20 “lenders” in their own personal network before the loan is posted live on the greater Kiva-Zip lending community. Lenders can commit as little as $25 to a specific loan. Once a loan is posted live, it’s viewable by the entire Kiva-Zip lending community and available for funding by lenders worldwide. Terms for repayment of the loans can range up to 24 months. Presently, small farming operations are the primary users of the Kiva-Zip program, but local officials believe the program has great potential in Kansas City’s urban core.

Two area businesses, The Tamale Kitchen and The Northeast News signed an agreement with LISC and the Chamber to be part of a pilot lending project in Kansas City. Last Wednesday, both business entities successfully reached their fundraising goal.

“It was a bit of a haul, but we had some technical issues that held us back a bit,” Michael Bushnell, Publisher of The Northeast News, said. “I know Becky Gripp over at Tamale Kitchen was funded in a matter of days but we didn’t get rolling until those tech issues were addressed by LISC officials in Chicago.”

Bobbi Baker-Hughes, Chamber President, was preparing for a bitter sweet conclusion until the tech issue was addressed.

“We really learned as we went along on this one, but thankfully we have two really great stories to tell,” Baker-Hughes said.

Gripp’s Tamale Kitchen acts not only as a catering company, but also offers opportunities for immigrant women to enter the work force. Kiva funds were used to upgrade the kitchen facilities for Tamale Kitchen and offer opportunities for more area women to learn workplace skills. The Northeast News will use its funds to upgrade the office’s parking lot, as well as offer seed funds to hire a marketing representative to concentrate on the area’s burgeoning Hispanic business community.

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